Breathe in, breathe out. I went thru a spell a while back where it felt like I couldn't get my breath. I told a stomach doctor that after I eat sometimes I feel like can't breathe very well. He said don't eat so much. Thanks, I couldn't have figured that out by myself. But in reality it didn't seem to be related to the food. I also noticed the sensation of being short of air when I lay down at night.
I recognized lying in the darkness that I could escalate the situation or calm it simply by how I thought about it. I could concentrate on the tightness in my abs or I could concentrate on air flowing in and out of my chest as I breathed slowly and steadily.
I started thinking about the power of the mind. As a writer, I do often try to get inside people's heads. The thing is I'm not a super psychology student and it's not my first instinct to look into the thoughts or motivations of someone else. I like plot so I easily get swept away in the activities. Next they did this, and then they did that.
But seeing in myself my own "opportunity" to talk myself into near panic over catching my breath or calming myself down if I talked differently made me think about the psychology of characters and strangers more.
A friend of mine described how she took the anger level of driving way down by imagining that the person that cut her off had to pee or was on their way to an emergency. Or even she could imagine that they were having a really bad day and if cutting her off could make them feel more in control of their lives maybe they just needed that at the moment and she would "give" them that.
The power of our thoughts on our perspective is amazing really. You hear stories of the bitter victims of disease faring worse than those who make peace with it and fight on. In both cases they are fighting but one seems to do so with more grace and sometimes more success.
Whatever was causing my own breathing issues went away on it's own with no medical intervention. I could have spent a lot of time in emergency rooms at bedtime had I listened to the panic voice in my head. Instead, I concentrated on the air I did have. I wonder what other situations in life I could adjust the way I see? Opportunity or problem? I think in psychology they would call it "reframing" how I look at the situation.
So as I'm beginning to think of my next book I'm going to write I'm trying to imagine what kind of psychological journey I can take my characters on this time. From panic to serene? Maybe that's a bit too much, but it makes me want to look at how people cope and their motivations more.